This is gonna get messy.
It has finally arrived: the 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor in all of its 400+ horsepower off-roader glory. Slated to arrive in dealers this summer, it comes standard with 37-inch tires - the largest-sized rubber ever used for an OEM factory-built road vehicle - and will immediately enter into battle with its chief competitor: the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. Neither is intended for the amateur off-roader. With ample amounts of power, these two SUVs are aimed directly at enthusiasts (and Beverly Hills High rich kids) who want something that's ready to go out of the box.
For years, Jeep literally owned this segment and Ford decided it was long past due to challenge its Detroit rival. The Bronco's arrival last year already put the Wrangler lineup on notice and now the pot is simmering hot. Which of these two four-door hardcore SUVs ranks supreme? We won't know for certain until Bronco Raptor test drives get underway but for now, here's how the on-paper rivalry stacks up.
There's no question both of these SUVs have been designed for serious off-roading. Looks alone can explain everything. Nearly 10 inches wider than the standard Bronco, the Bronco Raptor comes equipped with a solid list of upgrades like a heavy-duty steel bumper with tow hooks, a vented hood, integrated LED fog lights, painted fender vents, and massive fender flares. A set of 37-inch all-terrain tires help complete the look.
The Wrangler 392, the range's halo model, receives bronze accents, 33-inch off-road rubber, dual exhaust, a Ram Air hood, and special badging. We wish Jeep would have done more to make the 392 stand out from the rest of the Wrangler pack. It's almost like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The Bronco Raptor, by contrast, is instantly recognizable. Aside from its greater ride height and width, the Bronco Raptor ditches the regular version's "Bronco" lettering on the front grille for simply "Ford," a trademark styling trait taken directly from the F-150 Raptor. On exterior looks alone, the Bronco Raptor wins hands-down. The design perfectly embraces its unique character and instantly screams, "LOOK AT ME!"
Step inside each of these two beasts and you'll find a long list of premium features and systems. A modern serious off-roader can no longer have a Spartan interior. The Bronco Raptor comes standard with a 12-inch digital gauge cluster (and equally-sized LCD touchscreen) which includes a trim-specific Performance View highlighting critical data like the tachometer and gear readings. Owners can customize the gauges to their liking and they'll certainly appreciate the thicker steering wheel, upgraded Ford Performance seats, and Code Orange trim. There are also carbon fiber accents on the grab handles, steering wheel bezel, and gear shifter.
The Wrangler 392's excellent Uconnect infotainment system is encased in an 8.4-inch touchscreen that also controls the Alpine Premium Audio System and an array of off-road features like a screen logging pitch, roll, and altitude. The 3.6-inch difference between these SUVs' touchscreen sizes is very noticeable. Again, Jeep should have done more here to make the 392 special. Both SUVs have standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, leather and heated seats, and can accommodate up to five passengers. The doors come off of both, too, but it's the Bronco that stands out as the most unique.
The Bronco Raptor is powered by the 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 with over 400 horsepower and an undisclosed amount of torque - the final outputs haven't yet been confirmed. Power is routed to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Owners will further get a race-ready suspension, a fully-boxed, high-strength-steel frame, and an additional 4.8 inches of extra ground clearance over the base model for new total of 13.1 inches. That engine has various drive modes, too, and one of them employs anti-lag from the Ford GT to keep the Bronco Raptor on the boil when doing high-speed desert runs.
The Wrangler 392, meanwhile, gets the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V8 crammed under its hood. It's good for 470 hp and 470 lb-ft and linked to an 8-speed automatic. Full-time 4WD is also standard. Jeep claims it'll reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds; Ford has not yet provided this figure for the Bronco Raptor. The Rubicon 392's ground clearance improves to 10.8 inches over the standard model's 9.7. It's clear Ford benchmarked the Jeep in the powertrain department but the real test is how they'll compare off-road.
We won't know for certain which SUV will dominate in a head-to-head matchup until the Bronco Raptor arrives in dealers, but based on specs and features alone, the Rubicon 392 has a problem.
The Raptor's list of off-road features is extensive. A heavy-duty bash and skid plate protect all the important bits. Reinforced rock rails with removable running boards and more rigid B- and C-pillars were also necessary. Ford Performance bolted in an upgraded Dana 50 HD solid rear axle and a front-end unit with improved half-shafts. Together, they increase the SUV's track width to 73.6 inches. The Rubicon 392's width, meanwhile, is 64.4 inches.
The Bronco Raptor has three 4x4 modes and a beefed-up clutch. A FOX suspension system, combined with an upgraded off-road stability suspension, and specially-tuned active dampers will get the job done but allow for dual purpose in that it can climb rocks and race at high speed across the dunes with far more confidence than the Jeep. Towing is rated at 4,500 pounds while the 392's is 3,500 pounds. The 392 comes with Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, a disconnecting sway bar, and high-performance Fox monotube shocks, among other things.
Pricing is the one critical area where we can already give the crown to the Bronco Raptor: it's priced from $69,995. The Rubicon 392, however, can't be had for less than $74,800. Justifying the latter's pricing was already a tough pill to swallow and the Bronco Raptor's arrival makes it even more difficult. How Jeep will respond remains to be seen.
That said, unless you're a die-hard Jeep fan, the Bronco Raptor, at least on paper, is the way to go. Not only is it brand new (the Wrangler JL generation dates back to 2017) but it builds upon the already outstanding Sasquatch Package and equips a slew of F-150 Raptor-related goodies that are tried and trusted. There's no doubt the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a highly capable SUV, with the V8 making it a particularly endearing off-roader, but the Bronco Raptor has upped the ante. The Bronco Raptor costs less than the Rubicon 392, and is equally and very likely even more capable off-road, both at rock crawling and at high speed. It's bound to be more frugal, and more comfortable on-road, giving it an early edge over the competition.